Hashim Amla: Bearded Wonder from Rainbow Nation

Triumph of a Batsmen who changed himself from being a poor starter to be bearded wonder-Hashim Amla

The first cricketer of Indian descent to represent South Africa, Hashim Amla made his debut against India in 2004.

Amla’s next big Test came against England, a team that then had enough bowling arsenal to intimidate any opposition. The English bowlers gave Amla a crucial reality check, one that made him step up to the demands and rigours of international cricket.

Back then in 2004, Amla’s technique was flawed; there was too much exaggeration in his trigger movement and his footwork. The English bowlers got the wood over him during that series and he was subsequently left out for the remaining games.

Acclaimed cricket critic Peter Roebuck once said, “A defeat is more illuminating than victory”, underlining an important point that failure allows teams to introspect on those areas which need work, turning themselves into better units.

Soon after the England series, it dawned on Amla that some aspects of his game had to change, and he went back to his domestic team Dolphins to seek the help of his coach and video analyst.

He practiced daily in the nets with these people and told them to record the net sessions so he could identify his technical flaws. Amla realized that the possibility of him staging a comeback with his current technique was rather low. The South African sought help of his coach and requested his time so he could work on his flaws.

With the help of his new methodical regime, Amla developed better footwork and technique. He topped the batting charts for three consecutive years in the domestic circuit, showing ample signs of improvement.

In 2007, Amla made his comeback in the international scene amidst wide skepticism as to whether he shall be able to survive the onslaught this time.

With a better and refined technique, he started to score runs beginning with a composed hundred against the Kiwis and then chipping with modest scores on high-octane tours of India and Australia.

Despite showing improvement, Amla stuck to practice sessions with his domestic coach in the off-season. His desire to become a great batsman was such that he worked with the video analyst continuously to improve any remaining glitches in his game.

Amla’s batting improved by bounds under Prasanna Agoram, who worked extensively with the South African opener during international fixtures and his time away from the game.

All the hard work and persistence paid off for Amla in the end, making him the best batsman in the world in no time as he now boasts of having scored over 20 centuries in both ODIs and Test matches.

Amla’s triple century against England at the Oval was the work of a genius and the innings exhibited immense composure and solitude. Cricket commentator and former English captain Nasser Hussain analyzed as to how much Amla’s technique had changed over the three different occasions when he played against England.

It was a sign of the dedication and hard work the man had put in to change his technique. This is perhaps why Amla had been instrumental in Test wins for South Africa over the likes of England and Australia in their own backyard.

There is always one thing that separates a genuine great from an average player. It is basically the insatiable desire to perform to the best of one’s ability, and then the question of complacency never arises.

This is not just true for Hashim Amla but for many other greats of the game who have spent infinite hours working on their game to produce some of the most immaculate performances the world of cricket has ever seen.

Great Inventor Thomas Edison rightly said once, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

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